Sunday, July 31, 2011


Indonesia Arrange Friendly?

A local paper is saying that Indonesia will play Malaysia in a friendly in Jakarta on 10 August, during the fasting month.

The two countries famously last met in the AFF Cup Final in 2010 which Malaysia won 4-2 on aggregate. Both legs attracted a combined attendance of more than 180,000 fans!


Singapore League Cup Final

SINGAPORE, 31 JULY 2011: Albirex Niigata (S) FC emerged as the 2011 League Cup champions after a pulsating match at Jalan Besar Stadium against Hougang United FC that ended in a penalty shootout.

The curtain raiser for the 2011 League Cup Final was the 3rd place playoff between Tampines Rovers FC and Home United FC. The match saw a few close moments which got the fans up on their feet. With both teams being unable to break the deadlock in regulation time, the 3rd place playoff had to be decided via penalty kicks in which Tampines emerged as winners.

The main event of the evening kicked off at 7.45pm with Albirex Niigata (S) FC and Hougang United FC facing off in the 2011 League Cup Final, a first for both teams. Despite being the underdogs in this tie, Hougang United FC wasted no time getting into the game.

Victor Borges of Hougang United, came close in the 12th minute to give his side an early lead but his shot missed the target by just inches. He struck again six minutes later and this time, his low shot was saved by Yoshito Matsushita, Albirex Niigata’s No.1.

Albirex Niigata gave Fadhil Salim, Hougang’s goalkeeper, his first real test in the 31st minute where he had to make an outstretched save to keep his side in the game. The first half ended with the score unchanged.

Both teams came back onto the pitch looking for a win in the second half and it showed in the pace of the game. Albirex used their advantage in speed to break down Hougang’s rock steady defensive line but each attacking move was effectively soothed by Hougang.

Hougang too were unable to penetrate Albirex’s defence despite the numerous chances they created from both flanks. After playing a full 90 minutes and with the score unchanged, the match went into extra time. Unfortunately, the extra 30 minutes were also not enough to decide the 2011 League Cup winner and the match then proceeded into penalties.

When it came down to holding their nerves, Albirex Niigata emerged winners as they converted all five penalties while Hougang missed their fifth penalty. The final score read, Albirex Niigata (S) FC 5-4 Hougang United FC. It is the first title for the Japanese side since their inception into the S.League in 2004.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Hougang United coach Aide Iskandar said “Both teams were cautious when we started the game, and I thought that it was an entertaining game for the fans to watch. Chances were created from both sides. I felt that we could have sealed the match in the second half of extra time, but unfortunately we had to work through the penalties. I also feel sorry for the boys because they gave their all and played very well. Moving forward, we will look towards the RHB Singapore Cup and the S.League.”

“Although we did not play at a higher tempo than usual, compared to our previous matches, we played possession football and our players were still able to pass the ball and keep the ball well till the end of the match. We did prepare for the penalty kicks as apart of our training and it came in handy. I would like to thank the players, coaches, all staff in the club for helping make this dream come through.” said Albirex Niigata coach Koichi Sugiyama.

Congratulations Alibirex Niigata (S) FC for being crowned as the 2011 League Cup Champions!

Final Score: Albirex Niigata (S) FC 5-4 Hougang United FC

Abirex Niigata (S) FC Starting Line-up:
Yoshito Matsushita, Ryuta Hayashi, Shuhei Hotta, Kazuki Kobayashi, Atsushi Shimono (Musashi Okuyama 111) , Bruno Castanheira (Yosuke Saito 74), Shimpei Sakurada (C), Tatsuro Inui, Shotaro Ihata, Norihiro Kawakami, Takuya Hidaka

Hougang United FC Starting Line-up:
Fadhil Salim, Lau Meng Meng, Shariff Samat (C), Shahril Alias, Fathi Yunus, Azhar Sairudin (Sobrie Mazlan 9
1), Jordan Webb, Ratna Suffian, Vitor Borges, Carlos Delgado, Noor Ali

SOURCE - FAS Press Release


World Cup 3rd Round Qualifying Details

02/09 China v Singapore, Australia v Thailand, Iran v Indonesia
06/09 Singapore v Iraq, Thailand v Oman, Indonesia v Bahrain
11/10 Singapore v Jordan, Thailand v Saudi Arabia, Indonesia v Qatar
11/11 Jordan v Singapore, Saudi Arabia v Thailand, Qatar v Indonesia
15/11 Singapore v China, Thailand v Australia, Indonesia v Iran
29/02 Iraq v Singapore, Oman v Thailand, Bahrain v Indonesia

Friday, July 29, 2011


World Cup 3rd Round Qualifiers

Three South East Asian teams will be listening carefully to this Saturday's World Cup draw. Their fate will be decided along with the other 17 remaining countries on the road to Brazil.

Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore will not be drawn against each other, that's for sure. Instead they will face one from each of the following 'pots'.


Japan, Australia, South Korea, Iran, China


Uzbekistan, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait


Bahrain, Syria, Oman, Iraq, UAE

The road to Brazil obviously goes through the Middle East!


Indonesia v Turkmenistan 4-3

Last night was a night of the unexpected. Nobody expected a crowd of 88,000, least of all PSSI officials who had apparently only prepared 64,00 tickets.

Nobody expected Indonesia to come flying out the traps and dominate the first half in the complete manner they did.

But in another way it was wholly predictable. Put any defense under sustained pressure and the chances are they will soon wilt. Indonesia's back line is no exception. Granted the Turkmenistan threat wasn't that great through most of the game but they showed glimpses of what they were capable of.

Two goals in the last few minutes gave the Indonesian support palpitations as the home team struggled to get even the basics of football right. Don't give the bloody ball to the other team.

How much of an impact did Indonesia's substitutions have on the climatic final few minutes that almost saw their World Cup hopes extinguished before they had even started.

On 78' captain Firman Utina and wide man M Ilham, who had scored Indonesia's goal in the 1st leg, were replaced by Tony Sucipto and Oktavianus Maniani. The score was 4-1, for the home team it should have been a case of what we have we hold. Sucipto can do that in the middle of the park. But Okta?

Okta came into the Indonesian squad during the AFF Cup last year and created an immediate impact alongside Irfan Bachdim. For a new generation of fans these two were Indonesia! Okta is a runner in the Forrest Gump mould. Just faster. Tell him to run and run he wil though you had better point out which way you want him to run.

Sticking him up front alongside a tiring Boas Solossa, you could see what coach Wim Rijsbergen was trying to achieve. Keep the Turkmen nervous at the back, let them face a bit of pace in the dying stages.

Instead of holding the ball, instead of working the ball to the corner flag and keeping it there to run down the clock they would attack pell mell, lose the ball then hope nothing developed with the counter.

Still, it's water under the bridge now. The records will show Indonesia won 4-3 on the night, 5-4 on aggregate and now await Saturday's draw knowing they will have to face one of Australia, Japan, South Korea, Bahrain and North Korea along with two other nations.


Changed Expectations Fuel Malaysian Woes

Back in 2008 Malaysia were drawn against Thailand, Vietnam and Laos in the ASEAN Football Federation Cup. After defeating Laos 3-0 hopes were high in the homeland that finally the Hariamau would make an impression in the region's leading competition. But successive defeats against Vietnam and Malaysia soon ended those hopes.

Then in January 2009 Malaysia hosted United Arab Emirates in an AFC Asian Cup Qualifier played at the KL Stadium in Cheras. The UAE won 5-0 in front of a sparse crowd and nobody could think of anything positive to say about Malaysian football.

The national team had become a farce alongside the governing body. The whole country seemed more interested in Manchester United and Liverpool than their own teams. One of the teams that made up the Malaysian Super League was founded from an American Idol type show...things had got that desperate.

Then, in a what was a surprise to many, Malaysia won the SEA Games in 2009. It shouldn't have been. They had been working very hard behind the scenes to put together a programme that would allow the very best local talent to bloom and prosper. The SEA Gams tiumph was just an early vindication.

A year later the full team won the AFF Cup with a young squad featuring many of the players who had SEA Games gold at home. Suddenly the laughing stock of the region had become the Double Kings of ASEAN and with a squad mostly aged about 24 and with a conveyor belt of talent behind them Malaysia seemed set fair to rule ASEAN for a long time to come.

Defeat in the World Cup Qualifier hasn't ended that dream. With the SEA Games later this year and Malaysia still in with a chance of reaching the Olympic Games in London next year there is still plenty for the fan of Malaysian football to crow about.

Losing to your bitterest foes is never easy. It's not meant to be. But this could be a pivotal moment for the young players in the yellow and black. The 4-6 reverse against Singapore is their first defeat in competitive football since those AFC Asian up Qualifiers in 2009 when they lost all four games.

How they respond will be crucial and coach Rajagobal will no doubt be keen to get his boys out playing as soon as possible.


Time For A South East Asian Football Show?

Malaysia v Indonesia 90,000
Indonesia v Malaysia 96,000
Malaysia v Arsenal 65,000
Malaysia v Liverpool 85,000
Singapore v Malaysia 6,000 (sell out)
Malaysia v Singapore 90,000
Indonesia v Turkmenistan 88,000

Some pretty impressive numbers there! A few years back Star Sports used to have a show called Top Corner that highlighted football in the region. Given the million and one stories currently happening in the region surely it's time for a new one?


Persipura Fancy Mustafic?

A story in yesterday's Top Skor suggests Persipura are interested in signing Singaporean international Mustafic Fahruddin!

Farra has just returned to the SLeague after two seasons in Indonesia playing with Persija and Persela but the Indonesian champions seem to think they can entice the defensive midfielder with the prospect of AFC Cup football.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Singapore Cup Quarter Finals

14/08 Tampines Rovers v Home United
15/08 SAFFC v Albirex Niigata
16/08 Hougang United v Okkthar United
17/08 Gombak United v Etoile
18/08 Home United v Tampines Rovers
19/08 Okkthar United v Hougang United
20/08 Etoile v Gombak United
21/08 Albirex Niigata v SAFFC

Last year of course Bangkok Glass beat Tampines Rovers 1-0 in the final.


Ref Could Cancel Thai Advantage

Thailand play Palestine in their World Cup Qualifier Second Leg knowing that their 1-0 lead is no way near enough. The shot shy Thais have been notorious for their inability to turn their silky build up play in to goals and new coach Winifred Schaeffer found out the hard way in the 1st leg.

As if that ain't enough the Thais may face a further handicap. I think I heard somewhere the ref for this game is from Bahrain. Now I don't know what the stats tell on this but how many non Arab teams get a result in that part of the world when the game is being reffed by an Arab?

I have heard on a couple of occasions of teams waiting in the tunnel and the match officials coming along and hugging their Arab brethren while just offering a cursory handshake to the visitors. Maybe something or nothing but it hardly inspires confidence in he impartiality of the officials when they're high fiving the home team.


Defending Ain't An Option

Singapore will go into the Tiger's Den tonight holding a two goal advantage over Malaysia but Raddy Avramovic will know that for all his team's five goals in the first leg at Jalan Besar Stadium, the lead is paper thin.

Roared on by 90,000 Malaysians keen to rip a new one for their rivals Avramovic will be wary of a defence that shipped three goals including one that came about because of a comedy of errors at the back while many fans will still entering the stadium.

Ideally Singapore would need to emulate that early, early goal. That would turn the home support jittery and it would also leave the Malaysian defence on edge. Because the rearguard has been like Deep Throat...the source of many a leak.

Malaysia have concede four against Arsenal, six against Liverpool and five against Singapore in their last three outings and while coach Rajagobal may be confident his attack minded team will penetrate the Lions back line he knows his team remain vulnerable and confidence low in that area of the field.

It doesn't help Malaysia's cause that captain and inspirational midfielder Safiq Rahim as well as striker Norshahrul will both be missing.

Right from the get go Singapore will want to be getting among the Malaysians. Mustafic Fahruddin and Hariss Harun, both so impressive in the first leg, will need to be on top form again tonight to break up any Malaysian attacks early on.

An early goal and perhaps Singaporeans may start to believe round three beckons...


When The World Cup is Not A Priority

My latest Jakarta Globe column!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Singapore U23 v Myanmar U23

SINGAPORE, 27 July 2011: The Singapore Under-23 side secured a 1-0 win over Myanmar Under-23 in an International Friendly match that was played this evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The match got off to a slow with both teams looking to put their game plan into place. The Singapore U-23 team got the first shot of the game but it was directed straight at Myanmar U-23’s goalkeeper, Hein Kyaw Thu.

Myanmar U-23s came close to breaking the deadlock on a few occasions but they had their chances thwarted by the Singapore defence. The same could be said for the Singapore side as they too were unable to find the back of the net.

Just twenty minutes into the first half, Khairul Nizam pulled his hamstring while chasing a long pass from his team mate, forcing him to him to be substituted by Nigel Vanu. The first half then ended with the score-line unchanged.

Coming back on the field for the second-half, the teams surged forward in numbers to get into the lead as both sides tried to dominate play. As tackles flew in from all corners in a highly aggressive match, Singapore was awarded a penalty in the 49th minute after Nigel Vanun was brought down in the penalty box while trying to break free from his defender.

Fazli Ayob converted the spot-kick brilliantly to give his team a well deserved lead in the second half. Myanmar responded immediately and saw their effort hit the bar after beating Syazwan Buhari, Singapore U-23 custodian.

With Myanmar chasing for the equalizer, they kept pressure on the Singapore defensive wall with repeated attacking moves from both flanks. In the 68th minute, Irwan Shah was sent off after receiving his second yellow card in the game.

The Myanmar U-23 team capitalized on the advantage of an extra man and pushed further for that elusive goal. Despite all the chances created, they were unable to penetrate the strong defensive line-up that the Singapore U-23 team had set up.

The match ended in Singapore’s favour with the scoreboard reading Singapore U-23 1-0 Myanmar U-23.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Myanmar Under-23 Coach Gerd Friedrich Horst Zeise said that he was extremely proud of his players and felt that they played well tonight. “I said before the result is not so important. Of course we want to win but for me, it was more important that we prepare the team for the future.”

“We must to go abroad to get more experience and we can’t keep playing in our own country and club teams. We must have challenge abroad.” He answered if the match was good preparation for the SEA games.

“The boys did well and they created numerous chances throughout the game even when we had ten men on the field. And I am pleased with their performance. These boys have good potential and we can build from here definitely.” Said Singapore Under-23 Coach Robin Chitrakar.

In preparation for the SEA Games, Coach Robin said “Being our first real test in preparation of SEA Games, I think it was good performance and we got the result we wanted.”

Score: Singapore Under-23 1-0 Myanmar Under-23

Goalscorer: Fazli Ayob, 49th minute (penalty)

Starting Line-up for Singapore U-23: Syazwan Buhari, Fazli Ayob (Fadhil Noh 61) , Hafiz Sujad, Fairoz Hasan, Shahir Hamzah (Abdul Hadi 51), Faris Ramli (Shamil Sharif 89), Khairul Nizam (Nigel Vanu 22), Irwan Shah (c), Safirul Sulaiman, Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Emmeric Ong 55), Gary Loo (Stanely Ng 79)

Starting Line-up for Myanmar Under-23:
Hein Kyaw Thu, Wai Phyo Lwin (Aung Hein Kyaw 39), Ye Lin Naing (c), Ye Win Aung
, Min Ko Ko, Ye Ko Oo (Thant Zin 85), Phyo Maung Maung Kyaw (Aung Ko Ko Win 69), Thiha Zaw (Soe Paing Thway 63), Kaung Sat Naing, Thet Naing (Yan Niang Htwe 56), HtooAung Moe (Yan Naing Aung 43)



LPI Announcement

Remember the Liga Primer Indonesia? You know, that league funded by a wealthy businessman set up to rival the FA sanctioned Indonesia Super League? Nah, still can't remember? Come on...the one that promised to change the game?

Well it has been on a mid season break since the end of May I think it is. Initially the break was only supposed to be a couple of weeks or so. Then it was announced the second half of the season would commence in September.

Now it has been indefinitely postponed pending discussions with the FA about how to run the two leagues in tandem or how to merge them.

I guess that means more 10 km training runs then, eh lads?


Pasoepati Heading To Jakarta

The fans of Persis Solo, known as Pasoepati, have had a miserable few years as their team has all but fallen off the football map. While their team withers away they have taken to following Solo Ksatria in the Liga Primer Indonesia and, as is their want, following them in big numbers.

Tomorrow expect to see some Pasoepati in Jakarta as several of them will be heading to the Bung Karno to, hopefeully, see Indonesia defeat Turkmenistan and make it to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Fantastic support, it's a shame those that run the game don't show the same passion and dedication...


Fortune To Move?

Udo Fortune had a phenomenal season with Persiba Bantul in the Divisi Utama in season 2010/2011. As well as helping the team to get promotion to the Indonesia Super League he personally managed to net an impressive 34 goals.

Now however it appears he is not willing to stay with the team based near Yogyakarta and is looking for a new team. Expect the big ISL teams to be sniffing round the striker who also had spells with Arema and Balestier Khalsa.


SEA Games Moved?

It was reported locally the the venue for the SEA Games this November was being moved from Palembang to Jakarta. Apparently the Jakabaring Stadium is being used for the opening and closing ceremonies as well!

Palembang was also supposed to host the AFF Under 23s earlier this month but that was delayed or has been cancelled. Difficult to tell which, it can be difficult to get straight answers in this part of the world at times!

Anyway what was the point of having the AFF Under 23s and the SEA Games? The latter is also an Under 23 competition!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Your Memories

Singaporeans love to talk about the day their Lions travelled to Malaysia and beat Pahang 4-0 to lift the Malaysia Cup.

I've been meaning to write about it for a while but to be honest I couldn't do it justice. If it's to be told it needs to be told by those who were there, who made the journey.

So if you were there then why not let me know about it and I will add your memories to this page!

Likewise it would be great if any Malaysians can remember the game from their view point!

Send your tale either by email or as a comment to this post...I look forward to hearing from you. Just one thing, keep 'em clean, polite and honest!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Aleksander Duric (Tampines Rovers & Singapore)

I'm not going to write a complete piece about Duric, life is too short, and anyway you can find all that on his Wiki page. Instead I'll just throw some numbers out there about this phenomenal professional footballer.

It looks like he started his career late, when he was in his early 20s, and despite only staying in Australia less than seven he managed to squeeze in nine clubs!

But it is in Singapore he has made his name and just check out his record since he first played for Tanjong Pagar United back in 1999.

Tanjong Pagar United 16 games, 15 goals
Home United 10 games, 11 goals
Geylang United 126 games, 148 goals
SAFFC 129 games, 157 goals

Now of course he is with Tampines and the 40 year old has only scored 26 goals in his 40 games. Piss poor you have to say!

For the national team he has managed 18 goals in his 36 appearances.

What's his secret? How can someone carry on playing past 40 and have netted more than 450 goals in a career spanning two decades?

As far as I can make out nothing more than hard work. He trains very hard and often and he takes care of his body. As athletes should do.

Forget your Wayne Rooneys and Emmanuel Adebayor, if you want a football role model check out this geezer...


Maybe It's Not All About Money

The highly rated coach of PSPS Pekanbaru has reportedly turned down a move to Persikabo. Abdulrahman Gurning led PSPS to a disappointing 11th spot in last season's Indonesia Super League while Persikabo again missed out on a return to the top flight after failing to achieve promotion from the second tier Divisi Utama.

This story suggests Gurning had been offered more money from the team who play at Cibinong Stadium, north of Bogor, but it seems he is happier in Pekanbau!


Not The Plastic Water Bottles

I've been watching football in South East Asia for a number of years now and crowd misbehaviour, while not as widespread as is made out, does happen on occasion. Not the all out brawls that plagued the game in England for so long but still enough to poison the atmosphere.

Kingdom of Football is reporting that fans of Prek Pra Keila recently turned a bit nasty after some refereeing decisions didn't go their way during their CLeague game with Build Bright University at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

It's always the plastic water bottles that get caught in the firing in incidents like this. Never the police, they are usually the first ones on their toes. Unruly fans pick up the placcy bottles and use them as weapons, throwing them on the pitch or in the general direction of whoever is annoying them at the time.

Of course regulations are in place in most countries to stop fans entering stadiums carrying drinks of any kind but placcy bottles do get smuggled in and, apparently, get left full so they can be thrown with the precision of an English World Cup penalty.

But why this victimisation of something we all need. It is hot in this part of the world, we all need drinks once in a while. Some more often.

I've seen them used in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and even Singapore, yep, even Singapore. The plastic water bottle flying pitch ward is as much a part of the football scene in this part of the world as flexible fixture lists, bumpy pictures and overseas study trips for club officials.


Indonesia v Turkmenistan Ticket Prices

If you fancy getting along to see Indonesia take on Turkmenistan in the World Cup Qualifier this Thursday then tickets go on sale tomorrow in Jakarta at the stadium.

Category 3 - 30,000 IDR
Category 2 - 50,000 IDR
Category 1 - 100,000 IDR
East VIP - 150,000 IDR
West VIP - 250000 IDR
VVIP - 500,000 IDR

Indonesia got a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg last Saturday so are in with a good chance of reaching the next round if they can do the business over the Turkmen.

The last World Cup Qualifying was a disaster for Indonesia, losing 4-1 at home to Syria in the first leg. hey sent an Under 23 to Damascus and instead of a Sauline like conversion they got beat 7-0! And things had started so well. Indonesia had drawn Guam in the 1st leg and they had pulled out which was a relief as no travel agents in akarta knew how to get there!


Malaysian Ultras

Good to see a large number of Malaysian fans come down for the WCQ against Singapore. Some estimates suggest about 1,000.

As far as I can make out there were numbers of Negeri Sembilan and Selangor fans in that number and I also recall seeing a Johore state flag in the away enclosure.

Plenty written about incidents both during and after the game and as these pictures show one security official was pushed to the ground after he waded into the Malaysian fans during the second half.

But the Malaysian fans gave good support to their team and more than did their bit adding to a cauldron like atmosphere in the tiny stadium.


Highest & Lowest

Highest Thai Premier League 2011 Attendances

24,712 Buriram PEA v Chonburi
24,125 Buriram PEA v Chiang Rai United
21,370 Muang Thong United v Si Sa Ket
20,011 Muang Thong United v Buriram PEA
16,360 Buriram PEA v Thai Port

Lowest Thai Premier League 2011 Attendances

429 Navy v Pattaya United
437 TOT v Pattaya United
447 Pattaya United v Navy
629 Navy v TTM
673 Pattaya United v Osotspa

Can we learn anything from these numbers? eams from isarn, the north east, seem to attract large numbers both home and away though of course Buriram PEA's figures are, like their title bid this year, highly influenced by a man whose influence Roman Abramovich can only dream of. Bangkok of course is home to a large number of migrants from around the cound...many from the north east.

I could have sworn last year, or was it the year before, Navy were getting healthy crowds? Both them and Pattaya, from the eastern seaboard, have been playing 'away' from home this season which has no doubt had an impact on their numbers. Politicians with clout can summon the masses in the boonies, it's a bit harder elsewhere. TOT are also a nomadic club.

SOURCE - Dale's Chonburi site

Sunday, July 24, 2011


World Cup Qualifiers 2014

1st Leg

Singapore v Malaysia 5-3
Turkmenistan v Indonesia 1-1
Thailand v Palestine 1-0

Not good for the Thais is it? The slenderest of leads to take to the middle east, defeat against Palestine would cap a memorable period in Thai football, coincidentally under FA boss Worawi Makudi, when they have failed in the SEA Games, the Asian Cup, the AFF Cup and now this? Still, he must be the right man for the job having just been elected.

The Big Pussycat Derby exceeded expectations. I will be writing more about it later but, in a nutshell, Malaysia went 1-0 within seconds, by half time it was 4-1 Singapore, two quick goals second half made it 4-3 but Duric using his strength made it 5 with about nine minutes left. But will it be enough?

Indonesia! Never thought they'd get a result there in a place most folks couldn't find on a map butthey done it and now, with the Bung Karno massive behind them, they are just 90 minutes away from a place in the 3rd Round draw.


Singapore v Malaysia 5-3

What a game!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


What's The Safest Country In South East Asia?

You want mind games ahead of this evening's World Cup Qualifier between Singapore and Malaysia then I'll give you mind games.

Wrapped in cotton wool by an over protectitive government and left shaking in fear of their neighbouring countries by an unquestioning media, many Singaporeans sit secure in the knowledge that their country is safer than anywhere else.

Malaysia is filled with parang wielding maniacs while Indonesia is, well, Indonesia is Indonesia. So sits the prevailing view among the chattering classes.

Now comes a story that them perceptions may not be what they are cracked up to be!

A recent survey suggests that in fact it is Malaysia that is the safest nation in South East Asia, not Singapore!

I'm not normally of fan of much of the regional media and I'm bored with surveys generally but the timing of this is awesome and believe me, had this been printed in the UK media concerning say England and Germany ahead of a vital international it would have caused a firestorm!

Friday, July 22, 2011


When There Is No Plan B

Singapore prides itself on being a slick, efficient country where everythng works on time and there are no surprises. Maybe, but not in football.

Two or three years ago the National Stadium was scheduled to close while they built a glorious new hub, Singapore as well as Malaysia and Thailand call everything a hub. to carry football forward into the 32nd Century.

A Brazilian Olympic team was brought in and the game was marketed as the last farewell for the locally famous and internationally unknown Kallang Roar.

Then came the financial crisis and demolition of the National Stadium was postponed ad infinitum. Liverpool came, played in front of a big crowd. They played Thailand in front of 22,000, Vietnam in front of 48,000. Singaporean fans would turn up if they felt there was enough prestige attached to the game.

Finally it was decided to knock down the National Stadium. Now the problem with Singapore is that they hate sports in their own country. The next biggest stadium was Jalan Besar which holds about 6,000. The National Stadium held 60,000. While the new 'hub' was being built Singapore didn't have a stadium worthy of the name to host any big teams. Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea all made it to KL, up the road in Malaysia, but none of them considered Singapore because the country that made its name on being in the right place for the world's trade couldn't provide adequate sporting facilities for its people.

We now have the nonsense of Singapore hosting Malaysia in a World Cup Qualifier...and they lack a decent stadium! They could have used Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru, just across the causeway in Malaysia. That probably holds about 25-30,000, enough for this fixture. But national pride is at stake. Why let people watch a game of football when it means the people who run the game would lose massive face because they can't hold it in their own country?

Instead Singapore will play at the game at Jalan Besar, a stadium which has a swimming pool behind one goal and a car park behind the other. Oh, and artificial grass.

Tickets went on sale earlier in the week and the FA announced that they would be only available to Singaporeans and as a thank you for their loyalty they could buy a maximum of four tickets each! Loyalty? Is soneone here havin' a Steffi? Singaporeans don't go to SLeague games, they won't pay the $5 to get in. They think the game in Singapore is shite and they think the players are thugs.

All of a sudden Singaporeans were queuing overnight for tickets at $18 a pop!Within hours the sold out notices had gone up and a few fans were left feeling disgruntled at having missed out. Even though they actually attend SLeague games...

It's a crying indictment of the city state's attitude to sport that we are left to witness what should be a cracking game in such a tiny stadium; that there was no alternative available because the priority is more expensive condominiums and malls.

Here's hoping the 4,000 tickets that were quickly snapped up find their way into the hands of supporters who fill the stadium and raise the roof and not touts hoping for a quick buck.

It's gonna be a great occasion despite the worst efforts of the authorities and the players of both sides deserve the raucous support of their followers.


Jajang Released By Pelita Jaya

Jajang Maulyana was touted as one of Indonesia's next big things when he broke on to the scene in Pelita Jaya's relatively successful 2007 season. He'd spent time on loan in Brazil and had created an impact in then coach Fandi Ahmad's youthful, attack minded sided.

The Yong Eagles howver were not able to build on that impressive season and Jajang became in danger of being known as a nearly man. He spent the second half of last season on loan with Sriwijaya but rarely made much of an impression.

Indonesia have travelled to Turkmenistan for their first leg World Cup Qualifier featuring tired and tested striking options like Bambang Pamungkas and M Ilham. Players like Jajang, and even Yongki Aribowo and Samsul Arif, just aren't given a run out or shown any trust.


Malaysia's EPL Menenge A Trois

v Arsenal 0-4
v Liverpool 3-6
v Chelsea 0-1

The Chelsea game mostly featured younger players as the first choice XI had to prepare for the WCQ against Singapore.


The Causeway Derby

Been looking forward to this game ever since the World Cup Qualifiers were announced a few months back. OK, Malaysia had to overcome a tricky Chinese Taipei first but they did so and now we have it.

Singapore are one of the most successful teams in the history of Malaysian football, as Chairman Mao would have said the neighbours are like lips and teeth. But since 1994 Singapore pulled out of Malaysian professional football to go their own way.

For several years the Lions were the top dogs across ASEAN with success after success at the ASEAN Football Federation Cup as well as good runs in the last World Cup Qualifiers.

However the last couple of years have seen Malaysia resurgent. They have won the SEA Games and last year's AFF Cup and are the only country from the region still in the Olympic Qualifiers. And while Singapore prepared for this weekend's game with friendlies against Maldives and Chinese Taipei, Malaysia have played Hong Kong, Cambodia, Qatar, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea!

The game on Saturday at the cramped Jalan Besar Stadium is a sell out with some fans queuing overnight and all tickets gone within eight hours.

Singapore have the experience. Players like Mustafic Fahruddin, Aleksander Duric and Daniel Bennett have been there, done that. They know the score. Coach raddy Avramovic, formerly Notts County and Coventry City keeper, has guided the Lions through the most successful spell in their history but they have reached a rocky patch now.

Failure to qualify for the semi finals of the AFF Cup last year brought about much soul searching with even the normally anonymous FA Chairman being quoted in the media as saying all the team will be dropped.

When Singapore get it right they are still a formidable opponent. Organised, tough and hard working though perhaps missing a bit of flair at times; the continuing absence of Ahmad Latiff puzzles many on the island.

There is a Jekyll & Hyde nature to the Lions. Take for example an AFC Asian Cup Qualifier at home to Thailand in 2008. The Thais passed and moved Singapore to death winning 3-1 and the Singapore public, almost to a man, went public with their whines about how the team, and the coach, were past their sell by date and anyway it was all a waste of money. (When it comes to whining Singaporeans can give Australians a run for their money!)

Second leg however, the Lions won 1-0!

Malaysia have the best habit in the football world. The habit of winning. Many of the youthful squad were involved in the SEA Games success of 2009 as well as the AFF Cup triumph last year. Indeed Arsene Wenger could learn a bit from coach Rajagobal's methods given the drough Arsenal way!

Players like Khairul Fahmie, Safiq Rahim, S Kunanlan, Safee Sali and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha are among the brightest talents in the region and while Sali already plays in Indonesia with Pelita Jaya there is talk that Khairul and Safiq maybe following him south.

It promises to be a fascinating match up between two contrasting styles and I am for one really looking forward to it. Plus of course a few cold beers served by the inimitable Mabel!

As to who wins? I really don't care! It's gonna be a great advert for South East Asian football!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Teerasil A Hoop?

Queens Park Rangers have reportedly offered a trial to Thai international forward Teerasil Dangda; a player regarded by many to be one of the best ever players from Thailand and within Asia at the moment.

According to a report, Dangda, who plays alongside Robbie Fowler at Muangthong United, has been told that he has an opportunity to play in the Premier League and will fly in to England to undergo a trial.

Dangda has been prolific at international level with Thailand, scoring 16 goals in 36 games.

It is understood that Dangda will be allowed to leave Muangthong permanently if a bid of £300,000 is made

SOURCE - Eye Football

COMMENT - first thought that springs to mind is Work Permit? Thanks to JLH for the heads up


Roberts Rates Rohit

Both Arsenal and Spurs are expected to run the rule over the classy defender when Nepal face Jordan in the World Cup 2014 qualifier next week.

Arsenal will battle north London rivals Tottenham for Nepalese teenager Rohit Chand. The 18-year-old, who plays for Indian First Division side Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) SC, is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Asian football and is desparate to make the big time in European football.

Former Spurs skipper Graham Roberts, who is the current coach of Nepal, is in no doubt Chand is destined for the very top.

He said: "Rohit is by far the best centre-half I have ever coached. He is an extreme talent who will play at the highest level."

SOURCE - Talksport

COMMENT - this young lad was one reason why I was very keen to see Nepal play Timor Leste in the World Cup Qualifier.


300 +

Singapore fans may have queued overnight to buy tickets for the World Cup Qualifier against Malaysia this Saturday but they have been lees keen to commit to the second leg.

4,000 tickets were bought within hours of going on sale, though applicants could buy a maximum of four per person which could see a flooded black market and banks of empty seats if scalpers had moved in hoping for a quick killing.

Singapore have been allocated 2,000 for the return leg in KL next week and reports suggest just less than 300 have been sold so far.

Others may be waiting for the result on Saturday. Many people won't bother if Singapore get a drubbing at home, thinking it would be a waste of time and money.

I on the other hand would remind them that after they had been beaten 3-1 by Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup qualifier back in 2009 most Singaporeans had written off their own team. The Lions went to Bangkok and won 1-0!


Riedl Wants His Cash

Alfred Riedl reminded the Indonesian Football Association on Wednesday that it had been a week since he was fired as national team coach and he was still waiting to get paid.

Riedl and former assistant coach Wolfgang Pikal dropped by unannounced at the office of the association, known as the PSSI. They brought with them a letter that they said was a reminder to the association that it had until Tuesday to resolve the question of compensation or they would go to FIFA.

Riedl and Pikal had wanted to hand the letter to the new PSSI chairman, Djohar Arifin Husin, or his deputy, Farid Rahman, but neither was available. Instead, Pikal gave the letter to a receptionist.

Riedl, who was replaced by Dutchman Wilhelmus Rijsbergen, didn’t answer questions from reporters, but Pikal said they wanted to resolve the matter amicably.

If that proved impossible, Pikal said, he and Riedl would submit a report to FIFA, football’s world governing body.

“We will wait until July 26 for the PSSI’s response, and if the PSSI doesn’t reply, we’ll file an official report with FIFA. Still, we want to end this in the proper way,” Pikal said.

“I’m not disappointed that there weren’t any PSSI official here to meet me. The most important thing is that our rights are honored. We have legitimate contracts on PSSI letterhead that have the signatures of the PSSI vice chairman [Nirwan Bakrie] and secretary general [Nugraha Besoes].”

Riedl’s dismissal came as a surprise to most, especially after Indonesia’s successful run in last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup. The official explanation by Djohar was that the PSSI could not find a copy of Riedl’s contract and suspected the Austrian had only signed a personal deal with Nirwan Bakrie, the PSSI’s former vice chairman.

Meanwhile, Farid, the PSSI deputy, has confirmed that the association now has Riedl’s contract, which the association said had been missing.

He said the official contract was now in the hands of the association’s legal department.

“We have it, but I haven’t seen it. The legal department is examining the contract,” he said. “We’ll settle it in a few days and we have schedule a meeting with Nirwan Bakrie, Riedl and Pikal.”

Riedl still has 10 months remaining on his contract, which was due to expire on May 6 next year. According to the terms of the contract, he was to be paid $16,000 a month.

Pikal also has 10 months remaining on his contract, which expires at the same time as Riedl’s. He also said he wasn’t paid for the four months prior to his dismissal.

In other football news, Liga Indonesia, which runs the Indonesian Super League, met with the PSSI executive committee to report on its activities and plans.

Liga Indonesia’s chief executive, Joko Driyono, declined to discuss the results, saying only that the PSSI should make an announcement on the ISL’s upcoming season.

There has been confusion around the ISL since the PSSI recognized the upstart Indonesian Premier League earlier this month.

FIFA rules say there can be only one top-flight competition in a country and the PSSI has yet to decide how it will handle the ISL and the IPL.

Joko said it was in the PSSI’s interest to decide the format before the Asian Football Confederation holds its annual assessment of professional clubs on July 30.

SOURCE - Jakarta Globe

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Darby Heads West

Steve Darby is never out of a job long.

Following his surprise resignation as assistant coach in the Thai national set up at the end of last month the former Johor, Perak and Home United coach will be taking the reigns at Mohan Bagun in India.

Mohan Bagun are based in the fascinating city of Kolkota and their fierce rivals are East Bengal who are coached by another Englishman, Trevor Morgan.

The match officials in the Indian Premier League just won't know what hit them!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Eagles Downed

Geylang United's five match unbeaten run ended when SLeague champions Etoile defeated them 3-2 at Bedok Stadium.

Kim Jae Hong had given the home team the lead on 18' and everyone settled down thinking it was game over but five minutes later Wilson Grosset made it 1-1. It was the first goal Geylang had conceded in more than five the SLeague keep records like this?

Nakano Yuta made it 2-1 to Geylang right on half time but Etoile scored tow late goals, the winner right at the death, to secure the points.

Despite losing five points for their role in a slap fest with Hougang United The Frenchies are just off the pace win 5th spo, nine points behind leaders Tampines with a game in hand.


Return To Balikpapan For Butler?

A Persiba fan website is suggesting Peter Butler is in pole position for a return to Persiba.

The former West Ham player has coached there previously of course before going on a one man ASEAN tour taking in Kelantan, Yangon United and BEC Tero.


Singapore v Chinese Taipei 3-2

SINGAPORE, 18 July 2011: Singapore defeated Chinese-Taipei 3-2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium just days before they march back onto the very same pitch for the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL™ ASIAN QUALIFIERS ROUND TWO Match against Malaysia.

The game got off to a slow start and steadily picked up pace with both teams looking to break the deadlock. Singapore decided to get matters going through Aleksandar Duric in the 17th minute. Left with just a simple tap in after receiving a low cross from Hariss Harun, he made no mistake to give his side an early lead.

Chinese-Taipei tried to get the game back on level terms but were unable to break down the Singapore defensive wall. The first-half came to an end with the score, Singapore 1-0 Chinese-Taipei.

Coming back on for the second half, Chinese-Taipei made their presence felt with a quick goal to bring the game back on level terms through No.9, Lo Chih An. The Lions responded with a Duric goal in the 54th minute which got the fans fired up and their cheers grew louder.

Both sides pushed ahead for the next goal and substitute Hiang Shih Lu put his team back into contention in the 62nd minute. Sensing the need for more attacking options upfront, Coach Raddy brought on Fazrul Nawaz and Qiu Li in the 65th minute. The tactical switch proved to be effective as the Lions wrestled back the lead with forward Fazrul Nawaz breaking away from his defenders to slot the ball home for Singapore’s 3rd and final goal of the match. The game ended with the score board reading Singapore 3-2 Chinese-Taipei.

Singapore Coach Raddy, was satisfied with the result as he spoke about his team’s performance at the post-match press conference when he said: “There are some points we need to improve on and also some positive points to take note of. We created a lot of chances, passing most of the time.” He went on to say “I am however happy with the performance of the team and this game allowed the players to learn from their mistakes as it is better to make mistakes now than in the match against Malaysia.”

“We kept passing the ball and had more possession. We did make mistakes today and we will learn from it and make changes to our game.” said Captain Shahril Ishak.

Goal scorer Aleksandar Duric was spot on when he said “We started with a new system of play from the match against Maldives and we are creating more chances. It was a good game and my team mates did well.

Having taken charge of the team only three days ago, Coach Tee Tae Ho said “It was tough but I think we did ok. Singapore forwards have more experience and are organized.”

When asked about the difference between Singapore’s style of play and the Malaysians, “Singapore has more stability and matured while Malaysia is abit unstable and not matured.”

Singapore 3-2 Chinese-Taipei

Goalscorers: Singapore No.9 – Aleksandar Duric (17th, 54th minute), No.10 - Fazrul Nawaz (82nd minute) Chinese-Taipei – No.9 - Lo Chih An (47th minute), No.27 – Hiang Shih Lu (62nd minute)

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud, Safuwan Bhahrudin, Shi Jiayi, Shahdan Sulaiman, Aleksandar Duric (Fazrul Nawaz 65), Hariss Harun, Mustafic Faharudin (Qiu Li 65), Daniel Bennett, Shahril Ishak (C), Ismail Yunos (Shaiful Esah 69), Juma'at Jantan

Chinese-Taipei: Chang Yung Hsien, Lin Cheng Yi (Lee Pin Hsien 88), Chan Yu Lin (C), Chang Han (Wu Chun Ching 77), Lo Chih An, Loo Chih En (Chen Po Hao 86), Chan Che Yuan (Chen Hao Wei 45), Liu Chi Chao (Hiang Shih Lu 45), Chan Po Liang, Wei Sheng Hsin, Lee Meng Chian

SOURCE - Official FAS Release

Monday, July 18, 2011


Indonesia Squad v Turkmenistan (WCQ)

Ferry Rotinsulu (Sriwijaya)
Markus Harison (Persib)

Supardi (Sriwijaya)
Zulkifli (Arema)
M Nasuha (Persija)
M Roby (Persisam)
Ricardo Salampessy (Persisam)
Wahyu Wijiastanto

Ahmad Bustomi (Arema)
Toni Sucipto (Persija)
Eka Ramdani (Persib)
Firman Utina (Sriwijaya)
M Ridwan
Arif Suyono (Sriwijaya)
Oktovianus Maniani (Sriwijaya)

Christian Gonzales (Persib)
Bambang Pamungkas (Persija)
Boaz Solossa (Persipura)
M Ilham (Persija)


Persib Prefer Local Coach?

Persib Bandung are looking for a new coach and it is being reported locally that there may be up to 11 names in the frame for one of the hottest seats in the country. Last season they worked their way through three with the first at least alleged to be the victim of player power.

Rahmad Darmawan has been linked with a move to Bandung all close season while Heri Kiswanto and incumbent Daniel Roekito have also been mentioned.

The club manager has suggested a preference for a local coach while also saying they will only sign the best.

So there.

Persib are famous for putting together a good, powerful squad on paper then monumentally failing on the field.


Indonesian Football Latest

OK, been wondering what the latest is in the never ending soap opera that is Indonesian football? You know, with the Indonesia Super League and the Liga Primer Indonesia?

Well, keep wondering 'cos I don't have a scooby!


Riedl To Stay In Indonesia

Reports locally suggest former Indonesia national team coach Alfred Riedl is being lined up for the hot seat, well, midly tepid, at Pelita Jaya. Of course the club now looking at an unprecedented third season in Karawang after frequent city changes are run by an individual closely linked to the previous PSSI regime.

Not sure if that is a recommendation or not!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


More From Malaysia

I have added some stuff to Asian Football Memorabilia and Asian Football Pictures regarding the Malaysia v Arsenal game...


SLeague Gets Better & Better

I know the general perception in Singapore is that their football is shite but then most of them sold their soul to the EPL a decade back and pine for queen and empire once more.

But the SLeague continues to be one of the most exciting leagues in the region.

Not like Thailand where Buriram PEA had won the TPL before the season had kicked off, allegedly, or Indonesia where much depends on outside factors.

I've devoted a fair bit this season to what has been going on outside the title race because for me that is just as exciting. Geylang United's unbeaten run and Balestier Khalsa & Hougang United's transformation from whipping boys to good, solid mid table fodder are three just for a start.

Friday night saw Hougang host this season's cannon fodder, Woodlands Wellington. With 10 goals in 21 games and just two wins the rams have been fighting for bottom spot with Tanjong Pagar all season.

Hougang meanwhile, under Adie Iskandar, are showing what a bit of continuity can bring to a football club. They sit 6th and have been scoring goals. All a big change from the days when they were known as Sengkang Punggol 0.

In their last game they had won 1-0 at SAFFC's formerly impenetrable Choa Chu Kang Stadium and to show how much things have changed nobody was really surprised. Hougang have also beaten another title challenger this season, Tampines Rovers.

So Friday night they come up against the shot shy Woodlands at Jalan Besar. In their first 10 away games Woodlands had managed just one win, at Young Lions. A blank against Tanjong Pagar was their only other point on their travels.

The Rams won 3-2! 75 goals in their 20 games this season.

It's a crying shame that more Singaporeans who think their Liverpool fans would have travelled to Kuala Lumpur to see their adopted heroes than attended a thrilling game in their own backyard.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


SHOCK! Singaporeans Queue Overnight For Local Football Match

SINGAPORE, 16 July 2011: All tickets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifying Round Two first-leg match between Singapore and Malaysia have been sold out on the first day of sales at the Jalan Besar Stadium South Gate.

With a queue forming at around 10.30pm the night before, it was no surprise when the ticketing booth at the South Gate of Jalan Besar Stadium had the ‘SOLD OUT’ sign displayed at 2.20pm this afternoon. Fans of all ages came together and stood in line, eagerly awaiting their chance to purchase the match tickets while some others were singing and cheering in unison as they waited for their turn.

Ridzal Saat, FAS Deputy Director for Marketing and Competitions said: “The queue started late on Friday night at around 11.30pm and the crowd progressively grew bigger as it neared the 8am sale time. By 2.20pm, all tickets on sale were sold out and we would like to thank the fans for coming out to support the Lions. It would be a wonderful sight to see Jalan Besar Stadium in a sea of red and we would like to encourage all fans to come decked in red to support our Singapore National Team in the match against Malaysia next Saturday.”

Friday, July 15, 2011


4 Horse Race In SLeague

Another exciting week of football in Singapore and I've missed it all so here is the table and top scorers. Hopefully normal service will resume next week.

1 - Tampines 20 14 3 3 41-16 45
2 - Home United 20 14 2 4 50-20 44
3 - SAFFC 20 13 2 5 39-23 41
4 - Albirex Niigata 21 13 1 7 48-22 40

18 - Mislav Karoglan (SAFFC), Aleksander Duric (Tampines Rovers)
14 - Frederic Mendy (Home United)
13 - Shotaro Ihata (Albirex Niigata), Qiu Li (Home United)
11 - Jordan Webb (Hougang United)
10 - Fazrul Nawaz (SAFFC)

Geylang play Etoile this weekend. Can they keep their impressive run of wins and clean shhets going against the Champions?


All About Arsenal

The Malaysian national team has been just about the only success story in South East Asian football in recent years. The Under 23s won the Sea Games in 2009 and the full team, featuring a good many of the triumphant squad, went on to win the ASEAN Football Federation Cup in 2010.

They are the only ASEAN team still in with a shout of reaching the Olympic Games in London next year, they are drawn againt Japan, Bahrain and Syria in the next round, while later this month they play Singapore in a home and away World Cup qualifier.

A successful team then, astutely coached by Rajagobal.

But when the Arsenal came to Kuala Lumpur the Malayan Tigers success was conveniently forgotten by a press pack from London and their quest for headlines and repeating the banal.

From the opening press conference in KL on the Monday, two games before the game, to Robin Van Persie being the last player to leave the field at the slowly emptying Bukit Jalil Stadium, Malaysia became a sideshow in the eyes of the world.

They were the hosts, they were expected to roll over and submit to the immense juggernaut that is the English Premier League. They became irrelevant.

Take that early press conference for example. The UK media brushed aside their local, provincial, counterparts, hogged the front row and questioned Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger about someone who hadn’t made the journey.

‘What about Cesc?’ they demanded to know. Now, I dunno, I’m no high powered red top journo but if I had travelled thousands of miles to a new footballing country, a place I knew nothing about, then I think I would want to now a bit about the place and the people. Who were the key players in the Malaysian team to watch for example? How would they line up? How does playing Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in one short week during a World Cup qualifying campaign help their bid?

But nope, nothing like that. “is Cesc leaving?’ was about as far as it went. The Arsenal captain of course hadn’t made the journey. He had stayed back home in London nursing a hamstring injury. Anyway, he’d already been in Asia, visiting Indonesia to help sell biscuits.

When it came to Malaysia, no visiting hack had anything for the Malaysian coach. the Little Englander mentality hit in, football is all about the EPL and that’s it. Anything else is just a distraction. A necessary distraction of course but a distraction all the same.

Even Arsene Wenger, he who is always described as studious, professorial, he had caught the bug. The Arsenal manager, famed for his contacts throughout the world game, famed for his ability to unearth 12 year old French speaking kids in deepest Africa and turn them into legends, he had not seen anything about his hosts.

Which is a shame because of course Malaysia have developed a young, winning team while Wenger hasn’t.

Most of the Malaysian support of course knew different. They knew the difference in their national team over the last few years and they treated their coach to a fantastic reception as he inspected the field a couple of hours before kick off. Mind you, he had been on the field 10 minutes before anyone noticed!

But that welcome was dwarved once a couple of Arsenal players walked out of the tunnel and into the arena. As Walcott, Wilshire et all raised their hands in the briefest of waves the decibel count on the terraes increased 10 fold. A thousand camera flashes lit up the stadium interior like the fireflies at Kuala Selangor as the travelling media pack gathered round to take pictures of a couple of footballers standing around, doing nothing much.

Arsenal won 4-0 and everyone went home happy. The Arsenal fans who had travelled from within Malaysia and from further afield like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, were happy because they had finally seen their heroes in the flesh, while the Malaysian fans went home happy because they had seen some EPL players in action and for them, as well as Rajagopal, the result was really secondary.

This wasn’t about football. It was about theatre. Everybody had a role to play, a role scripted in advance by the organizers, the directors.

At the final whistle the Malaysian players collected their medals for losing 4-0 and nobody really cared. Arsenal collected their medals and the place went mental. Then the likes of Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott were given baseball caps which they then proceeded to throw into the crowd. And the crowd went wilder.

Van Persie was the last to leave the field. He was surrounded by autograph hunters among the local media and to be fair to the guy he stuck around while the rest of the team were back in the dressing room.

After a short night’s sleep the Arsenal circus moves on to China while Liverpool will enter the KL big top this weekend when an expected 86,000 fans will turn up, expecting to clap and cheer on cue.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Malaysia & Singapore Partnership

SINGAPORE, 12 July 2011: The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is pleased to announce that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

The signing ceremony took place at the Wisma FAM, Jalan SS5A/9 Kelana Jaya, Selangor on 12 July 2011 and was attended by FAS President Mr Zainudin Nordin, FAS Vice President Mr Lim Kia Tong, FAS General Secretary Mr Winston Lee and present from the FAM delegation, were FAM Deputy President, His Royal Highness Tengku Abdullah and FAM General Secretary Lt Gen Dato’ Azzuddin Ahmad (Ret), distinguished guests and media from both countries.

FAS and FAM have been discussing for some time now, on how both Associations can tap on their respective strengths to further develop football and strengthen ties between the two Associations.

This partnership will therefore be the vehicle for both national teams including youth teams to play as many friendly matches as possible to foster closer ties between the national and youth teams of both countries.

It will also create opportunities for both the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League and the Malaysian Super League teams to showcase the quality of play in both domestic leagues with the exciting initiatives that we have agreed upon.

Key aspects of the partnership:-

Increase competitive matches between the two countries

Starting from 2012, over the span of four years, both Associations are seeking to encourage more friendly matches between the National and Youth Teams of both countries to further improve the standard of the game and to foster closer ties. Taking into account the respective international commitments of the FAS & FAM, we hope to see an increase in the number of friendly matches between our teams at all levels.

THE FAM and FAS Series

An FAM and FAS Series which comprises of two tournaments titled the League Champions Challenge and the Cup Winners Challenge will take place annually between the victorious teams of the League and Cup competitions.

The League Champions Challenge will see the champions of the S.League and the Malaysia Super League compete in a home-and-away format while the Cup Winners Challenge will be a home-and-away matchup between the Singapore Cup and Malaysia Cup champions. With the key objective of this MOU between the two nations focused on further improving the standard of football, both Associations have agreed that in the event that the champions of the league or cup is a foreign team, FAS and FAM will select a local team that came in second to participate in this series.

Malaysian team will play in the S.League from 2012 to 2015

It was also announced that for the first time, a Malaysian team will participate in the S.League from 2012 to 2015. This team will also participate in the League Cup and Singapore Cup.

Singapore team will play in the Malaysian Super League from 2012 to 2015

Also in the partnership, a Singapore team will participate in the Malaysian Super League, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup from 2012 to 2015. This team will comprise of national players below the age of 23, five players above the age of 23 and complimented by the quota of foreign players allowed in accordance to the competition rules.

With these initiatives in place, fans and players alike can look forward to an interesting four years where the two nations will be able to witness exciting and pulsating football in the respective domestic leagues spiced up by the traditional historic rivalry while on the international front, both countries will benefit from the increase in number of matches between the two sides.

FAS President, Mr Zainudin Nordin was pleased with the partnership when he spoke at the press conference. He said: “There is always a special romance between Singapore and Malaysia football. I am pleased with this football partnership and am confident that it will further strengthen our ties with the FAM.

“The key points of this partnership cannot be achieved overnight. It will take days, weeks and even months of planning as we iron out the creases. But I would like to reiterate that these are positive moves. I seek the patience and kind understanding of the media and public while we work round the clock to make it happen. In this regard, FAS and FAM will form a working committee to discuss and agree on all of the operational details and when these are completed, we will host another media briefing to share the details with members of the media.”

Welcoming the partnership, FAM Deputy President, His Royal Highness Tengku Abdullah said “We welcome this move. It certainly gives a positive impact to Malaysia. Especially amongst our youth players. It is a big opportunity for our players to gain exposure in the S.League and at the same time, the Singapore Lions will have the same opportunities in our Malaysian Super League. With this agreement, we hope that this will open the door for many more collaborations in future.”

COMMENT - I hate to say this but I find it hard to argue with much of the above. As the old adage says if you have nothing to say then say nothing so I'm keeping mum. Only to say this kinda mirrors what I said a couple of years back about having the Young Lions play in Malaysia...check it out on Jakarta Casual TV!

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